MANY a true word, it is said, is spoken in jest. So when Rainworth MW manager Julian Watts embarked on a Spanish holiday and joked that he was off on a European scouting mission it should not have been a surprise that his comment contained a grain of truth.
The fruits of his alleged hard labours at the poolside, though, came from much closer to home, with the return to Rainworth of goalkeeper Joe McCormack for his third spell with the Wrens.
Watts explained: “I called it my European scouting trip, and it wasn’t quite that. But while I was away I did succeed, through persistent contact via text messaging, in convincing Joe that Rainworth would be the best place for him to be playing his football, and to play again for me - which he has done during the last two seasons at Shirebrook.
“Joe is a top keeper who understands how I want to play, and he ended last season playing Evo-Stik League football with Loughborough Dynamo. He has improved tremendously over the past couple of years but was already very good before then, and must now be among the best keepers in this division.
“He already loves the club from his previous time here, and knowing what a fantastic set-up we had was a factor in his agreeing to return. He will now be our number one keeper when we start the season at Garforth next Saturday.”
Excellent though McCormack is, it can’t have been easy to put him into the side ahead of Nathan Burrows who has performed very well in pre-season games. McCormack was handed the starting jersey in Saturday’s final pre-season game against Heanor Town and played for the first hour or so before giving Burrows his chance.
The 2-0 defeat was the Wrens’ first loss since the 5-1 to Mansfield Town early in July, but it was a tale of Heanor taking their chances and Rainworth not putting theirs away in an otherwise even contest.
Speaking after the match, Watts said: “We had two gilt-edged openings which on another day would have gone in, so the result was disappointing, as were certain aspects of our game for a 20-minute spell in the second half, so that needs addressing.
“I believe pre-season results do matter, but at least we didn’t lose any points and it gave us some pointers as to what needs to be done before next Saturday’s trip to Garforth, when points will be at stake.
“I’ve a pretty good idea of what will be our starting line-up, but I’m waiting on a couple of key players who were missing, and if they are available then the team will change slightly.
“We have a decent squad, but I’m still looking to add to it this week to see whether we can improve it further, although we are 90 per cent there.
“Today Heanor took their chances but I was disappointed by the way they were created. We have to be strong and quick in defence to nullify the opposition’s threat, and we have to take our own chances at the other end. We didn’t do that today, and that was the difference.”